Sugaring vs. Waxing: Which One is Right for You?

Sugaring vs. Waxing: Which One is Right for You?

If you are looking to eliminate unwanted body hair, there are several options to explore. There is laser hair removal (which comes with a significant time and cost commitment), shaving (which offers short-term results) and hair removal creams (whose effectiveness is questioned by many). Among these, there are also waxing and sugaring, two other effective and well-loved options if you are on the quest for smooth, hair-free results. The two work similarly when it comes to process and results, but they each come with their own set of characteristics that will play an important role in which one you should select.

Expert Tip: For those looking to minimize pain or discomfort after a waxing or sugaring session, Zensa Healing Creamis an excellent choice. Because it is made with all-natural ingredients like calendula and grapefruit oil, it will not contribute to any excess irritation you might be experiencing as a result of sugaring or waxing. In fact, it contains conditioning shea butter and soothing cucumber extract to keep skin hydrated and comfortable post-hair removal session.

Below, learn about the differences between sugaring and waxing to discover which method is right for you.

What is Sugaring?

Sugaring is a hair removal method that involves using a paste made up of three ingredients (sugar, water and lemon juice) to remove hair from the root. The paste is applied onto the desired area against the direction of hair growth and then flicked off after a few seconds in the natural direction of hair growth, says Daria Nartov, founder of Sugaring NYC. "This technique helps reduce pain and prevent hair breakage and ingrown hairs, leaving your skin smooth and exfoliated," she adds. The most common areas to sugar are the face, arms, legs, underarms and bikini area. For sugaring to be effective, Nartov says that the hair should ideally be about 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch (three to six millimeters) long. Like many beauty practices of today, sugaring has a rich history that dates back centuries to ancient Egypt. Today, the technique is widely used for how gentle, eco-friendly and effective it is.

What is Waxing?

Waxing is a hair removal method that involves applying warm wax to the skin in the direction of hair growth and then quickly removing it (and the hair) in the opposite direction of the hair growth. The wax clings to the hair and, when pulled off, pulls the hair out from the root. Like sugaring, waxing can be done on various parts of the body including the arms, legs, bikini area and underarms. It is a popular way of getting rid of unwanted hair due to how quick and convenient it is, especially when compared to shaving, since it offers smoother, longer-lasting results. For optimal results, Nartov says the hair should be around 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch (six to 12 millimeters) long.

What Are the Differences Between Sugaring and Waxing?

  • IngredientsThe sugaring mixture typically consists of sugar, lemon juice and water, and each ingredient serves a specific purpose," says Nartov. Sugar, the main component, acts as the adhesive that sticks to the hair and pulls it from the root. "Lemon juice provides acidity, which helps prevent the mixture from crystallizing — it also has natural antibacterial properties, making it suitable for sensitive skin," she notes. Finally, water helps create the desired consistency for the mixture to be pliable enough for application. On the other hand, wax typically uses natural beeswax or synthetic resins like rosin, says Nartov, who says that these ingredients are combined with other additives such as oils, plant extracts or synthetic compounds to create a pliable, sticky substance for hair removal. Some people prefer sugaring due to the fact that it is only made up of three ingredients while wax can contain additives that may irritate those with more sensitive skin.
    • Application: One of the main ways sugaring and waxing differ is the way they are applied. Sugaring involves applying the paste against the direction of hair growth and removing it in the natural direction of hair growth. According to Nartov, this technique helps the paste seep into the hair follicle and adhere to it, which has the added benefit of preventing breakage and ingrown hairs. Wax is typically applied in the direction of hair growth and removed against the direction of hair growth. When it comes to application and removal, waxing is generally faster than sugaring because larger strips of wax can be applied and removed in a single pass (whereas with sugaring, the paste needs to be applied in smaller sections and then removed). This makes waxing more efficient and less time consuming for covering large areas of the body, such as legs or the back.
    • Pain level: Pain is subjective and dependent on an individual's tolerance level and the area that is being treated, but generally speaking, sugaring is considered less painful than waxing. This is because the sugaring paste adheres primarily to the hair, not the skin, which reduces the pulling sensation since there is no skin being pulled off, says Nartov. Also, sugaring does not require pre-heating, which minimizes the risk of potential burns or discomfort, she adds. For those with sensitive skin, sugaring may be a better option since it contains fewer additives and potential allergens than traditional waxing formulas. While sugaring is said to be less painful than waxing, both techniques come with some side effects, which include temporary redness and minor irritation for sugaring and redness, irritation and ingrown hairs for waxing, says Nartov. To minimize pain from either hair removal method, use a numbing cream that is safe for sensitive areas, such as Zensa Numbing Cream, prior to beginning the procedure.



    Sugaring and waxing are two popular methods of hair removal that offer smooth results but are different in terms of application and ingredients. Sugaring is a more natural option made with only three ingredients, making it better for sensitive skin types. Waxing is also an effective way to remove unwanted hair, especially on larger areas of the body, but can be more painful than sugaring. In any case, both hair removal techniques keep the skin smooth and hair-free for roughly three to four weeks.


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